Window shades can lend privacy, protect furnishings from UV light, and even help you get better sleep by softening sounds and keeping brightness at bay. Due to inner layers of fabric insulation, blackout shades possess more light-blocking abilities than all other varieties of shades available. They differ from blackout curtains in that they fit snugly either into or outside the window frame, similar to classic roller shades or Venetian blinds. Blackout shades can even help make your home more energy efficient by adding a layer of thermal insulation to the windows to regulate temperature in all seasons.
There are various types of blackout shades, some better suited to specific areas, decor styles, and operation preferences. So if these light-blocking window treatments seem like they’d be a wise addition to your home, read on to learn what to look for when shopping and why the following products are considered among the best blackout shades.
- BEST OVERALL: SBARTAR Window Shades Cordless Blackout Fabric Blinds
- BEST ADHESIVE: SEEYE Blackout Temporary Cordless Shades
- BEST ROLLER: PASSENGER PIGEON Blackout Roller Shades
- BEST ROMAN: Arlo Blinds Thermal Room Darkening Fabric Roman Shade
- BEST CELLULAR: Grandekor Cellular Shades Blackout Cordless
- BEST MOTORIZED: Yoolax Motorized Shade for Window with Remote Control
- BEST FOR NURSERY: Acholo Blackout Window Shades
- BEST FOR BEDROOM: ALLBRIGHT Thermal Insulated 100% Blackout Shades
Types of Blackout Shades
While all shades can block light to some extent, only blackout shades can keep ambient light, as well as the sun’s strong rays, from seeping in. Depending on your room’s decor, window shape, and light allowances, choose one of the following styles for room-darkening effects.
Classic roller shades consist of a single piece of fabric “rolled” into a concealed headrail when raised. To block light, roller shades must be pulled down using a cord or chain. Cordless versions, considered safer for homes with kids and pets, are also available. Affordable and easy to install, roller shades can be mounted inside or outside the window frame, though outside mount versions are more efficient at blocking light.
Elegant yet unfussy, Roman shades consist of soft fabric that can be raised or lowered by a system of rings and a cord, which is sewn into the back of the panel. When raised, these panels collapse into horizontal folds at the top of the window. When lowered, the fabric either lies flat against the window or hangs in soft loops or folds. Flat Roman shades look at home in traditional or contemporary settings, while soft-fold Roman shades offer a bit of airiness and romance to a room’s decor.
An internal, 3D structure that resembles a honeycomb makes cellular shades uniquely efficient at blocking out light. Each cell is coated in insulating, blackout fabric, creating an absorptive chamber that light rays can’t escape. Operated by either a cord or a push tab at the bottom, cellular shades offer excellent light control, noise reduction, and insulation, which can potentially lower energy costs over time. Constructed in narrow, crisp accordion folds, these shades can be fully drawn or raised to any height preference to let in light. Some versatile deluxe versions can also be raised and lowered from the top as well as the bottom, offering more lighting and privacy options.
Motorized blackout shades are operated with the press of a remote control button or by voice activation via smart home compatibility. While more expensive than manual window treatments, they can be a real convenience in rooms with high ceilings or where windows are hard to reach. Motorized blackout shades may also be useful for office meeting spaces, game rooms, and home theaters where complete darkness is desired. They offer a sleek look suited for modern environments.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Blackout Shades
While blackout shades are functional, they can also be beautifully designed to coordinate with your curtains and other decor. So think about your top priorities as you shop, including purpose and overall look, methods of control and installation, and ease of cleaning and upkeep.
Purpose and Style
Blackout shades can offer privacy, insulation, noise reduction, sun protection, and temperature control. Style-wise, they can enhance the overall mood of your rooms. While soft neutral hues, like white, beige, or gray can provide significant light blocking, dark gray, navy, and black provide the best blackout effects. Roman shades can be used without extra curtains, but roller and honeycomb shades tend to look best when paired with curtains or valances.
Material and Color
Blackout shades are typically made of tightly-woven, polyester fabric, blocking sunshine and ambient light thanks to an insulating black liner, which in most cases isn’t visible. To present a seamless, attractive look from outside as well as inside your house, look for shades that are the same color on both sides, as opposed to lined in blackout material on the back. While well-engineered shades are effective in lighter hues, including white and ivory, darker colors do tend to block light more effectively.
Sizing and Installation
You have two basic options when it comes to shade sizing: pre-cut or customized. Pre-cut shades come in a range of standard sizes to fit an array of conventionally-sized, residential windows. To purchase, simply measure your window inside or outside the frame, depending on the mount type you choose. Then, select the correct dimensions from the options provided or choose the “custom sizing” option and follow brand instructions.
When measuring for shades, consider where and how they will be installed. Determine if they will be placed inside or outside the window frame, and whether they will be secured to the frame with adhesive strips or via hardware.
- Adhesive shades, which tend to be the least expensive option, are best for quick, DIY solutions, as well as travel and cabin/RV living. You simply measure and cut the shades to your windows dimensions, tear off the adhesive strip, and stick to the window frame, according to brand instructions.
- Inside mount shades require precise measurements and are installed inside the window frame with mounting brackets. These shades offer a clean, sleek look and take up less space than outside mount shades. They also offer more options for layering curtains and other window treatments.
- Outside mount shades, which are installed outside the window frame via mounting brackets, block light to the greatest extent. These are often recommended by window treatment experts for rooms desiring maximum darkening, such as bedrooms. They require less accurate measurements than inside mount shades and can also make windows appear bigger.
Controls and Upkeep
Manual shades are operated by a cord, a chain, or a push tab. Roller, honeycomb, and Roman shades come in both corded and cordless varieties. Motorized shades have no cords or tabs and work via integrated electronics. Due to the risk of a cord tripping or tangling around a body part, cordless shades are considered safer for homes with kids and pets.
If shopping for motorized shades, you’ll find several control options. For a more integrated look and feel, these shades can be paired with a wall switch or an app on your smart device. Pairing your motorized shades with a smart home device has many benefits, including programmable timer options. For example, if your home gets a lot of sun in the morning or afternoons, you can set your shades to lower at a specific time.
In terms of upkeep, always follow manufacturer care instructions. But, in general, most blackout shades can be cleaned with a microfiber dust cloth or brush-headed vacuum attachment. Roller blinds are the easiest to clean, as they are flat and smooth. Honeycomb and soft-fold Roman shades have more texture, so will need to be dusted with care. For motorized blinds, dusting should be sufficient.
Our Top Picks
All the following products were selected for their ability to block light, as well as their superior design, ease of use and installation, and affordability.
These SBARTAR blackout shades are precisely engineered to block all incoming light and UV rays, thanks to the blackout liner within the cellular fabric. They also provide noise reduction and can help save energy, due to an inner honeycomb structure that stays cool in summer and warm in winter. The cordless cellular shades are operated by a bottom tab that lifts and lowers them to your preferred height.
For style versatility, the shades are reversible, with 12 different color combinations from which to choose. Select “room darkening” versus “light filtering” versions for maximum darkness. For complete privacy, light-blocking, and elegance, Sbartar shades are a solid option.
If you want to block light quickly and conveniently, consider these temporary cordless adhesive shades from SEEYE. Made of high-quality, non-woven fabric, rather than paper, these breathable blackout shades are suitable for homes with kids and pets. They install easily, no hardware required. Simply measure, cut, tear, and press the peel-n-stick adhesive backing to the window frame. They remove just as easily without damaging the frame.
SEEYE shades block sunshine and ambient light, and are controlled by taps at the bottom. Though they come in four colors/styles, choose “blackout” for the best light-filtering effects.
PASSENGER PIGEON’s classic roller shades block up to 100 percent of sunlight and UV rays from entering your home. They also provide insulation against heat and cold, reduce noise, and boost privacy. These roller shades, available in 14 colors and both corded and cordless varieties, let you customize dimensions or select pre-cut shades from dozens of length and width options.
Constructed from heavy-duty polyester, these shades are easy to clean with a damp cloth or dust cloth. The fabric itself is thermally insulated and waterproof, making these shades a good choice for French doors as well as windows that receive a lot of sunlight.
Chic, safe, and effective, these thermal Roman shades are made of thick polyester fabric to block a majority of light, lend privacy, and boost energy efficiency by keeping rooms cool in summer and warm in winter. The shades are available in dozens of pre-cut dimensions to fit a host of residential windows, and they operate easily with a cordless lift mechanism.
Choose from three neutral colors (graphite, light gray, and white), which work with a range of interior styles. Cleaning is a breeze with a dusting cloth or soft brush vacuum attachment. Any wrinkles can be removed with a steamer on low heat. Though a good choice for a variety of living and office spaces, these shades do not block all light so are not ideal for bedrooms that require complete darkness.
Stylish and intended for 100 percent darkness, Grandekor’s cellular shades are designed to elevate the look and improve the function of your home. These polyester fabric shades are lined with aluminum foil for complete light and heat blocking abilities, and the cordless design is easily operated by a clear tab at the bottom of each panel.
They come in five colors and dozens of sizes and can be installed inside or outside the window frame. All necessary hardware and instructions are included.
If motorized blackout shades make sense for your home, these Yoolax models are worth looking into. Choose from either a remote-control operated version or integrate hands-free, light control via Alexa or Google home assistant. The rechargeable, battery-powered motor will run for between 4 to 6 months of daily use per charge.
Constructed of sleek PVC/vinyl material, both sides of these shades are the same color for a seamless look inside and out. They’re easy to clean with a quick wipe of a damp cloth. Yoolax shades are made to measure, so click “customize now” to receive emailed measurement and installation instructions within 24 hours.
If darkness on demand is important at bedtime or naptime, these Acholo blackout shades may just do the trick. What’s more, they’re cordless and easily operated by a pull bar at the bottom, so no worries about choking and tripping hazards. The polyester fabric shades are highly durable and easy to clean with a microfiber cloth or light vacuuming, adding another plus for kid-friendly quarters.
Each shade is double-sided in the same color; choose from white, gray, dark chocolate, and black. While the shades can be mounted inside or outside the window frame, Acholo reminds customers that the sides are 1.5 inches narrower than the top brackets, so a little light will enter with inside-mount installation.
A dark room can often lead to a better night’s sleep, and these shades are designed to provide 100 percent darkness. The polyester shades are lined with thermal silver fabric, made of certified non-toxic materials, so you can breathe as easily as you sleep. This lining has the effect of blocking all ambient light as well as maintaining the ideal temperature inside your home.
Operated by a pull chain, these well-tailored shades are designed to fit inside the window frame. And if dark hues won’t suit your bedroom decor, you can choose one of their soft neutral shades of beige, gray, or light gray without compromising room-darkening ability.
FAQs About Your New Blackout Shades
To understand more basics about blackout shades, consider the answers to these commonly asked questions.
Q. What is the difference between room darkening and blackout shades?
Room darkening (also called “light filtering”) shades don’t block all light. Blackout shades offer maximum light blocking, especially in a dark color.
Q. Do blackout shades provide privacy at night?
Yes, blackout shades will prevent light from coming in, and people from peering in.
Q. Can you put blackout shades over blinds?
No, blackout shades should be used in the place of traditional blinds.